The Royal Academy of Arts to open David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 comprising a new body of work created by David Hockney RA during a period of intense activity at his home in Normandy charting the unfolding and progression of Spring. The period in which these works were made coincided with the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, when Hockney, along with the rest of Europe and much of the world, was in a state of lockdown. Faced with an unprecedented and disconcerting period, Hockney’s focus on the emergence of spring instead celebrates the natural world and urges people, as he does himself in one of his frequently used phrases, to ‘love life’. This will be the first time the works will be exhibited, opening exactly a year after the works were made.
Hockney has been fascinated by conveying the passing of time through painting and the exhibition will present over a hundred works that have been ‘painted’ on an iPad. Presented chronologically, the works will be printed on paper at a large-scale and densely hung evoking a sense of emersion in nature across three rooms in the Main Galleries. Hockney has taken inspiration from the Bayeux Tapestry’s graphic and narrative form, which is located near to his home in Normandy and to which he returns to view frequently.
In 2019 Hockney spent time in Normandy, prolonging his stay to capture spring in this rural corner of France, knowing that it would differ from the spring he had witnessed, painted and drawn in Yorkshire over the ten years between 2003 – 2013. Throughout his long career Hockney has explored a variety of media in the making of art, as well as investigating the ways in which new technology can be appropriated. The beginning of 2020 saw his renewed interest in the iPad, when a mathematician updated the ‘brushes’ app on the newest model, tailoring it and developing many features in response to Hockney’s specifications. This also enabled Hockney to capture his subjects rapidly, without needing to set up the paraphernalia associated with painting or drawing.
“I have been working this year, 2020, to depict the arrival of spring in Normandy. This takes about three months, and I think it’s the most exciting thing nature has to offer in this part of the world. When the lockdown came… we were in a house in the middle of a four-acre field full of fruit trees. I could concentrate on one thing, I did at least one drawing a day with the constant changes going on, all around the house. I kept drawing the winter trees, and then the small buds that became the blossom, and then the full blossom. Then the leaves started, and eventually the blossom fell off leaving a small fruit and leaves, this process took about two weeks, all the time I was getting better at my mark making on the screen, eventually doing, à la Monet, the water lilies in the pond.”David Hockney, July 2020.
David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 Main Galleries (Galleries 2, 3, Central Hall and Lecture Room) 23rd May – 1st August 2021 The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries 11th August – 26th September 2021
From £17; concessions available; under 16s go free (T&Cs apply); Friends of the RA go free. Advance booking is essential for everyone, including Friends of the RA. All visitors must have a pre- booked timed ticket to enter the building.Tickets can be booked in advance online (royalacademy.org.uk)